Saturday, 27 February 2010

A stray late 18th Century Antrim family?

There is one family with a surname which could be a variant, albeit a remote one (some might say 'deviant') of McIlhagga. We know of this family because it appears in the 2% sample which has been preserved of the 1851 Census. The name is McIlligan. This name does not appear as a separate name or as a variation of another name in any standard dictionary of Irish or Scottish surnames and I think it is reasonable to think it has the same Gaelic origin as McIlhagga.

There is a 'nuclear family' at 14 Glenarm Altmore St in the townland and parish of Tickmanrevan. Tickmanrevan or Glenarm is in the barony of Upper Glenarm, County Antrim, on the northern coast. Robert is the head of the family, aged 23, a Blacksmith, born in County Antrim in 1828. His wife is Catherine, aged 21, a dressmaker, also born in County Antrim, in 1830. We can assume that Robert and Catherine were married in either 1849 or 1850 as they have a daughter aged one, hence born in 1850. Her name is Easter so we can assume that she was born in that season!

An added interest for us is the fact that in the same street, also recorded in the 1851 Census, in the house of Daniel and Rose Laverty, their daughter Mary and 'granddaughter' (sic) William McCloy aged 2, there is a Lodger whose name is recorded as 'Mary McIl...?' Daniel and his daughter Mary were both Labourers and Lodger Mary 'spinning wool'. I think it is highly likely that Mary was a widow and was the mother of Robert. Her name must have been partly obliterated on the census form subsequent to its being completed. There may of course have been several reasons why Mary chose to lodge near rather than with her son, new daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Presumably she wanted them to have the freedom to establish their own family, and she was 66. This meant that she became Robert's mother at the age of 43. Was he therefore the youngest child? The couple Mary was lodging with were more her own age. Daniel was 66 and Rose 55. It is interesting that Mary still worked, as a wool spinner, and could presumably come home to a meal prepared by Rose (listed without an occupation), rather than by her daughter-in-law who apparently also had to work. From a clan genealogy perspective Mary would have been born in 1785 and perhaps had been married to a clan male who had been born about 1780. Certainly this is a 'stray' clan family, if a clan family it be, for we know of no other family settled nearby, but, who knows, we may discover sometime how they fit into the wider picture.

Friday, 26 February 2010

The Plantation of Ulster

The 'Plantation of Ulster' in the 17th Century was in reality a series of plantations. The first and the 'official' one, from 1610, did not include Antrim, the county in which the majority and perhaps all of the McIlhagga clan settled. Then 'private plantations' in Antrim and Down saw the migration of English and Scottish settlers. As early as 1611 Randal MacDonnell, a Scots Catholic who had been granted land, invited lowland Scots to settle on his land. In a village he created near his castle at Dunluce this included the McIlhargeys who might or might not have been related to the McIlhaggas. Both certainly came from mid and southern Ayrshire and Galloway. It was over 50 years later that we find our earliest clan settlers to whom I have referred on the 13th April and the 18th May last, in the townland of Cogry, just four miles west of the village of Ballyclare in the district of Newtownabbey, about ten miles north of Belfast and fifteen miles inland from the port of Larne. Cogry was a 'Mill settlement' and it may be that the two men we find there on the Hearth Tax Roll in 1669 worked at the mill, namely Allexander McIlhago and James McIlhaga. They could have been born in the 1640s, possibly in Ayrshire.

Sadly we have found no further clan reference for another three generations (at least seventy years). There is apparently no known clan continuity of the name Alexander, though there certainly is of the name James. This is one of the names found in the mid-1700s in Larne and on nearby Islandmagee, as I have shown in an earlier blog, which was an entirely 'Scots' area. Samuel McIlhaggo/a of Islandmagee was born about 1740 and James about 1755. In County Antrim there are two other men born about the same time. Nathan McIlhaggar is found as progenitor of a family in Carnmoney and an as yet unnamed father of four farming brother was to be found in the townland of Maxwell's Walls. Then the clan clearly spread out across the county in the second half of the eighteenth century. The evidence for this is some ten names of clan members with birth dates in the late 1700s. We are on steadier ground when we name the progenitors of other known clan families after the turn into the 19th Century, though of course they may all have been branches of those who arrived during the 'plantations' of the 17th and 18th Centuries.

In approximate chronological order we have Henry in Maxwell's Walls, David in Newtowncromelin, William in Ballycloughan, Francis is Ballymuckvea, John and William in Maxwell's Walls, Henry in an as yet unidentified place, Samuel in Carnmoney, William in Tulleygarley, another Henry, William John in Armoy, Samuel in Belfast and Andrew in Ballymena. The task of trying to find the links between all these families continues.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

50 MIs

An overgrown Clan grave in Carnmoney, Northern Ireland

Since starting this blog just over a year ago I have recorded 50 Memorial Inscription names. I am very grateful to all the people who have sent me photographs from round the world, even when, like the one above, they don't say much for the care of the graves, though let it be said that at Carnmoney the local Family History Society has done a great clearing job quite recently.

The MIs are to be found in 24 different locations, mostly of course cemeteries, but a few War Memorials as well. There are 24 names in Northern Ireland, 10 in Scotland, 6 in England, 5 in the USA, 3 in Mainland Europe, and one each in Australia, Asia and Canada. If you total those, you will find it comes to 51 - but one name has been recorded twice!

Twenty four of the names are of men and twenty six of women. Other than those I have already mentioned in the blog, one is of particular interest because it contains the names of two wives of the same person. The husband outlived both, which is fairly unusual. The earliest is in the 1730s in Scotland and that is the only one from the eighteenth century. Then there are three in the first half of the nineteenth century and eight in the second half. Inevitably most are in the twentieth: 3 in the first decade, 9 in the second, 4 in the third, 5 in the fourth, 6 in the fifth, 5 in the sixth, 3 in the seventh and one in the eighth. Most record the name McIlhagga - 39, though I also have McIlhaggo - 4, McElhago - 4, McElhagger - 2 and McIlhaga - 1. I am sure there are many more out there that I do not know about, so would welcome any other photographs.

Boar War, A Professional and a Bracelet

I have assumed for a long time that the earliest conflict in which a clan member was involved was the First World War. But not so! I have come across an Australian internet site which names John McIlhagga among the 'Soldiers of the Queen in the Second Anglo-Boar War 1899 - 1902'. He was in the 134th Company, the 29th Battalion, The Imperial Yeomanry. Incidentally another John for whom we have a WW1 Medal Card served in the Royal Artillery 1914 - 1920. Unfortunately at present I do not know where either John fits into a Clan Family Tree.

The Great War medal list also includes W.B. McIlhagger who was in France with the Royal Irish Rifles and then with the Royal Engineers. This was probably William Boyd McIlhagger, born 8 December 1880 in Shankill, Belfast, who is in the 1901 Census in Hampshire, England, with the Sapper 60th Company, Royal Engineers. This surely means that he was a professional soldier, and another pre-World War One serviceman. We do know which Family Tree he belongs to. He was the second son of George McIlhagger and Mary Ann Boyd, and on 6th May 1908 married Eleanor McArthur in Lynn Memorial Methodist Church, Belfast. They were to have three daughters and a son William who in turn had two sons, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, including one boy to continue the name line.

Another Military Matter has arisen. The organiser of Donal Buckley Military Tours in Ireland has passed on to me a request from a gentleman in County Mayo. Apparently he has a bracelet made up of coins and a miniature medal which was given to Mary Ellen the widow of John Hutchinson McIlhagga after he was killed at Passchendale in 1917. He would like the medal to go to someone in John's family as an 'heirloom' if possible. I don't think John and Mary had any children. I have however identified two nephews and two great-nieces. It may be right for one of them to inherit this item. On the other hand someone else may make themselves known who has a better claim. The miniature medal is perhaps a Canadian 'Widow's Penny' or 'Death Penny', so-called, issued after the First World War. Interestingly the bracelet found its way from Canada on to a Yorkshire, England bric-a-brac stall over thirty years ago where I presume its present owner found it. He is to be highly commended for wishing to pass it back to a McIlhagga family.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Bits and Pieces

1. I have added an illustration to the blog of 8th February 2009. It is part of the medieval document including the name 'gilmagu', the Latin of the original Gaelic of our Clan name. He was a witness to a land transaction.

2. A correspondent has emailed me to ask if I know anything about two McIlhaggas who went into 'service' in the Irish County Tyrone town of Coalisland, one in domestic service as a 'lady's maid', the other as coachman to the vicar of the parish. I imagine the 'lady' was the vicar's wife! I presume this would have been a young married couple. I have no record of these folk so if this rings any bells, I would be glad to hear.

3. I have today added a note to the blog of 9th January last to report an email from FamilyTreeDNA to say that I have a 37 marker match to my McIlhagga DNA. How interesting!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Master Carpenter

If you are a regular reader of this blog you may have realised that I have some links to the Western Isles of Scotland. Genealogically this includes the islands of Coll, Mull and Iona. Iona also features in my personal history as I have worked for two short periods at Iona Abbey. The Iona Community, which occupies the Abbey, has borrowed a prayer which some think George Maclead its Founder discovered in, or adapted from the writings of Walter Rausenbusch the American 'Father of the Social Gospel' at the beginning of the 20th Century. It is used on Iona in the Daily Office, 'O Christ, the Master Carpenter, who at the last, through wood and nails, purchased our whole salvation, wield well your tools in the workshop of your world, so that we who come rough-hewn to your bench may be fashioned to a truer beauty of your hand'.

When I found myself on a Committee revising a Hymn Book one hymn was about to be rejected because its concluding verse used the line 'our boyhood guard and guide', which clearly couldn't be sung by girls or adults. However the earlier verses by Bishop W.W. How from the 19th Century provided one of the few hymns which focus on Jesus' childhood and upbringing which we know from Mark's Gospel was in a Carpenter's household. I though that a paraphrase of the 'Iona prayer' would make a good concluding verse which could lead us into a deeper understanding of God's purpose in the Incarnation. So here is the result:

Behold a little child
laid in a manger bed;
the wintry blasts blow wild
around his infant head.
But who is this, so lowly laid?
The Lord by whom the worlds were made.

The hands that all things made
an earthly craft pursue;
where Joseph plies his trade,
there Jesus labours too,
that weary ones in him may rest,
and faithful toil through him be blest.

Christ, Master Carpenter,
we come rough-hewn to thee;
at last, through wood and nails,
thou mads't us whole and free.
In this thy world remake us, planned
to truer beauty of thine hand.

It was subsequently published in the Methodist book called Hymns and Psalms, and in the United Reformed Church's book called Rejoice and Sing. It can be sung to various tunes (metre 66.66.88) but I do like St. Charles by Caryl Micklem, composed in memory of Erik Routley.

Ballyclug to Partick

Dumbarton Road, Partick

The second 'stray' family which appears in the 19th Century Scottish Censuses is found in 1891 in Partick. William McIlhaggart, aged 24 (so born 1867?) is certainly the William McIlhagga, aged 35 (born 28 Mar 1866), still in Partick ten years later (1901), where he is a Shipyard Labourer, and by then married to Agnes (25) and with a son John (aged 4). We have surely found William who was born in 1866 to John and Mary Ann McIlhagga. John (who was son of William a Weaver), a Timber Yard Labourer, married Mary Ann Atkinson on 14th March 1905 in Ballyclug Parish Church, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Their son William met Agnes Anderson McClure (born about 1876), a Paper Mill Worker, in Scotland and they were married on 31st December 1895 by The Church of Scotland at Whiteinch, Partick.

William and Agnes had a son John, born 3rd January 1897 at 104 South Street, Whiteinch, who was to marry Jannie Anderson Hay on 9th May 1919 at 3 Park Corner, Whiteinch. They had two children, Agnes McClure and John, both of whom emigrated to Western Australia. Agnes was born 21st October 1922 and married Albert Collins in Glasgow on 4th December 1942. He died in Perth, Western Australia, on 27th September 1980. They had five children before she remarried. John married in 1956 in Freemantle, Western Australia and had a son a daughter and a son. John who married Jeannie Hay is possibly the John McIlhagga of 97 Whiteinch who is listed in the British Army World War I Pensions Records and who attested for the Territorial Force on 19th January 1915 for 'the duration of the War'.

William (who married Agnes) had two brothers and a sister. John was born 4th November 1868, in County Antrim. Elizabeth was born on 9th November 1871 and Clark ten years later, about 1881. When William died (27th October 1905 at Kelvin, Glasgow), Agnes his widow sadly had to resort to making Poor Relief applications and in fact received three grants for clothing from Govan Combination. She eventually became housekeeper for Clark and she had three children by him: Clark who died as an infant (10th December 1909), Marion McMenemy, known as Minnie, born 25th September 1906 who married William Meldrum on 30th August 1929 in Partick and had two daughters and a son, and third there was Agnes who married Thomas Chalmers (11th July 1950, Glasgow) and had two sons and a daughter. Clark senior died 29th December 1946, probably in an ambulance between South Street and the Western Infirmary, Glasgow. On his death certificate he is shown as 'married to Agnes McClure'. By then he had become a Coal Dealer. Agnes (nee McClure) outlived both her husbands, the brothers William and Clark.

Monday, 8 February 2010


Most of the 'Clan' who are to be found in the Scottish Censuses between 1871 and 1901 belong to the McIlhagga family which hailed from Ballycloughan, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. There are, however, a couple of families who at this time I am considering as 'strays', and first we have the McIlhaggies who in 1871 were living in Bridgeton. There were Samuel (27), Jane (26) and children Samuel (6), Robert (4) and William (0). Who were they and where did they come from? Clearly Samuel was born about 1844, so do we have a marriage that would 'fit' his birth year? Well, despite the fact that their eldest son Samuel was born in 1865, I think we do. In the Scottish Statutory Records there is a Samuel who married Jane Easton on 8th June 1866 at 304 Bath Street, Glasgow, after banns according to the forms of the United Presbyterian Church. Their marriage was conducted by the Revd. John Wilson, minister of Mitchell Church, Anderston. Jane was a Domestic Servant, daughter of Robert Easton a Handloom Weaver and Catherine Johnstone (deceased). Samuel was a Boilermaker Journeyman, son of William McIlhaggie, a Coalpit Sinker and Mary Houston.

Our immediate thought might be that Samuel and Mary had been cohabiting and had married as soon as possible after their first child was born which would, in Scottish Law, have made him legitimate, despite the fact that his birth record says 'illegitimate'. But the facts may not be quite as we first imagine. The couple may well have planned to marry before they had children, but Samuel's father William was in fact drowned in a Canal near Temple Bridge, in the Parish of New Kilpatrick, on 12th October 1865 and this tragedy may well have delayed any wedding plans. Samuel (who married Jane) was one of four full siblings born to William Gage McIlhaggie and Mary Houston, namely Rebecca, Henry, Samuel and Margaret who gave notice of her father's drowning. Samuel had three full siblings and I think three half-siblings as his mother Mary Houston had I believe been married twice, the first time to William Gage's elder brother John. He and Mary had had another Henry, then Eliza and William. We know from William Gage McIlhaggie's death record that his parents were Henry McIlhaggie or McIlhaggo and Mary McDole or McDowel. Henry in his turn was one of probably four brothers born in the late 18th Century in Maxwell's Walls, the townland in the parish of Connor in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

PS: I do not know what became of the children of Samuel and Jane. A correspondent has found the surname McIlhaggie in Hamilton County, Ohio, USA, Surname Registry. I will document the second 'stray' family I have found in the Scottish Censuses in a subsequent blog.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Sugar Prize

Following my blog of 12th January the granddaughter of Lillian Graham added a comment to what I had written about Lillian's mother, Agnes McIlhagga. Lillian's granddaughter has, I'm pleased to say, been in touch again. She has mentioned an interesting event about which I have had no previous knowledge. Her great great grandfather (and my great grandfather), Crawford, as I have documented previously, worked in the Sugar Industry as a Sugar Baker. An uncle told her the story, which he had heard from his mother, of Crawford going to Paris and winning first prize for crystalised sugar. Although I have looked for documentary evidence of this, I have yet to find it. I wonder if the event was reported in the newspapers of the day?

Apparently the prize was presented at the famous Paris Exhibition of 1889, at the time of the construction and indeed completion of the Eiffel Tower. Family tradition is that it was 'father and son' who went, representing the firm of Tate & Lyle, in which they had been involved from the start of the Liverpool Refinery. Sadly Crawford succumbed to the Sugar Industry's sickness of alcoholism (see my blog of 26th November last) and ended up in the Union Infirmary (former Walton Workhouse) where he died on 8th July 1907, aged 70. His wife had died there (aged 63) exactly a year before. Although most of the records of that Institution have disappeared, family memory is that (probably in his last year) his daughter Agnes would bring him to her home on a Sunday for his roast dinner. It was she who undertook the responsibility of burying him.

It is said that Crawford was a member of the Royal Black Institution, an organisation related to the Orange Order but owing its origins to the Scottish Masonic Order. The 'Blacksonites' were considered to be more religious than political and more 'respectable in its proceedings' than the Orange Order (see Wikipedia Article).